Sale of lamb in the guise of mutton and buffalo meat in place of beef is rampant at the city's kitchen markets during the Ramadan, according to mobile court officials carrying out drives against food adulteration and concerned DCC officials.
They also said that lack adequate inspections teams of the Dhaka City Corporation (DCC) to monitor and prevent such crimes as well as limited legal provisions were responsible for the alarming increase of such acts in the markets of the city.
Veterinary official of DCC Azmal Ali said that they could inscribe identification seals on meats sold in a handful of slaughtering houses only as the corporation has a gross shortage of inspection personnel, which is triggering the growth of such unethical practices.
One DCC official said that manpower shortages were forcing them only inscribe seals on meats sold in some areas like Pilkhana, Hazaribagh, Karwan Bazar and Mohammadpur.
"We have no provision for identifying lambs in the markets except for beef, buffalo meat and mutton ", he added.
DCC insiders said that they inscribe identification seals after required examination only at six slaughtering houses of the city.
"We cannot take any action and examine lamb on display due to the lack of provisions in this connection", another DCC official said.
DCC sources also said that they are unable to inscribe seals on meats when it is slaughtered outside the DCC jurisdiction although DCC inspection teams were strengthened ahead of the Ramadan.
Sources outside the DCC, however, had a different story to tell. According to them, the corporation officials and inspectors often turn a blind eye to the issue in return of handsome pay-offs by the unscrupulous traders.
They alleged that in some cases, the butchers give the DCC inspection teams as much as Tk 500 regularly so that the former could continue their businesses unhindered.
During a visit to some of the key kitchen markets of the city like Gopibagh, Kamalapur, Karwan Bazar, Alubazar, Segunbaghicha, Maniknagar, Jatrabari and Mohammadpur no identification seal was visible on the meats.
One butcher at the city's Alubazar said that many of the butchers in the city had been selling lamb as the price of goats rose sharply in the cattle markets in recent times.
Customers at Gopibagh and Jatrabari kitchen markets alleged that lack of monitoring by the DCC, they were forced to buy buffalo instead of beef and being fooled into buying lamb instead of mutton.
When asked, butchers at Segunbagicha area replied that the seals had been erased when the meat was boarded on the van in the morning.
"Our meat does not carry any seal and we do not feel any necessity for it", a butcher at Gopibagh kitchen market said bluntly.
Admitting such acts of cheat by the butchers, Rokon-ud-Dowla, magistrate of a mobile court of the Bangladesh Institution of Testing Institution (BSTI) said that drives had been going on to curb such practices.
"We will concentrate focus our drives to minimise such practices during Ramadan", he said.